Trump on Ukraine aid: ‘We’re thinking about making it in the form of a loan’

Former President Trump on Friday signaled an openness to Republicans approving additional aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia if it came in the form of a loan.

“We’re looking at it right now, and they’re talking about it, and we’re thinking about making it in the form of a loan instead of just a gift,” Trump said during an appearance alongside Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

“We keep handing out gifts of billions and billions of dollars, and we’ll take a look at it,” Trump continued. “But much more importantly to me is the fact that Europe has to step up, and they have to give money. They have to equalize. If they don’t equalize I’m very upset about it, because they’re affected much more than we are.”

Trump has for months expressed skepticism about providing U.S. assistance to Ukraine in its war against Russia, arguing support for Ukraine is not a vital American interest and that Europe should be providing the bulk of the assistance. His views have been deeply influential among his allies in Congress, making passage of Ukraine aid in the GOP-controlled House difficult.

The former president’s stance has created a political minefield for Johnson as he looks to help Kyiv’s beleaguered forces. The U.S. has provided billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine in the form of military and humanitarian assistance, but it ran out of congressionally approved funds late last year.

The Biden White House has for months pleaded with lawmakers to pass more aid for Ukraine as its forces struggle to fend off Russian attacks. President Biden and others have repeatedly argued that supporting Ukraine is in the interest of the United States, because if Russia defeats Ukraine it could invade a NATO ally that would draw American forces into a wider conflict.

The Senate last month passed a $95 billion national security funding package, which included $60 billion in aid for Ukraine. But Johnson has refused to put the bill on the floor as Trump allies in the House have dug in against providing more aid to Kyiv.

Johnson for months has said the House would consider foreign aid in due time, pushing back the timeline for other must-pass matters, like government funding. But the Speaker narrowed in on a schedule last weekend, announcing that the House would consider Ukraine aid “right after” the two-week Easter recess.

Democrats in both chambers have suggested they’re willing to support Ukraine aid in the form of a loan if it can break the impasse, even if it’s not their first choice.

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